Monday, March 31, 2008

It's An Original.

Ok, definitely one of my favorite pics of Gabe. One of my best friends, Tami Lyons made this adorable Cars-Cars blanket and pillow for Gabe. He LOVES it.

We have a funny story about this awesome blanket. When we were on the plane heading to Arizona, Greg was sitting next to a guy that noticed Gabe's blanket and an interesting conversation took place:

Guy: "Wow, that blanket is so cute. My son loves Cars. Where did you find it?"

Greg (eagerly giving a sarcastic response): "Oh, well, they're really hard to find. It's a local artist in Illinois. She's really pricey. She does a great job, but she's in high demand."

Guy: "Oh." (sulking a wee bit...) "Well, what's the name? Could I maybe get one?"

Greg (loving every minute of this): "Well, it's a Tamilyon's original. There's only one like it."

Guy: "Oh".

It was just so funny. Greg couldn't resist calling Tami to tell her that he had totally talked her up to this guy. Tami, it is an original... you da' bomb-diggity. Gabe loves it and we all love you!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Middle - Part 2

So, where did I leave off?

If you're a follower of our blog, then you'll remember that I was telling our story. The story of how we became a family. I have gotten a lot of comments from others on sharing our story. Many people have been glad that we've shared it. So, now, it is time for the 2nd installment.

When Greg told me that he wanted to pursue adoption, I was thrilled. I couldn't believe my ears. My best friend and I had literally been praying for God to move him and open him up to the possibility of loving a child that was not biologically ours. Oh, does God work in such magnificent ways. He knew the timing. He knew what would happen.

So, in the early Fall of 2005, we began asking around about adoption agencies. We had an acquaintance that was "in" the adoption field and we asked him where he would go if he could choose an agency. He suggested The Love Basket. He said they were wonderful people to work with. So, I contacted them and we requested an initial application. We completed the initial paperwork and waited. On Thanksgiving, we found out that our first application (Packet I) had been approved. With that letter, we received Packet II. This packet contained an application that was a lot longer. This required references with letters, physical exams, salary and tax information, our marriage history, etc. This packet was at least an inch and 1/2 thick when we received it.

So, we worked and worked on this packet. We had to tell our life stories, how we met, how we handled conflict, etc... This took quite a while. Also, because Love Basket is based in Missouri, we had to find an Illinois-based agency to conduct our home study. I was a little nervous about the idea of a home study. I was so afraid (which I know now I totally shouldn't have been!) that they'd find something wrong with our house. Should I light candles for a nice smelling house or will she think that's a fire hazard? Should I bake cookies, or is that too June Cleaver? Should I leave vacuum marks in the carpet, or does that look like I'm a clean freak? All of these things pop into your head. You just want to make the best impression.

So, after calling a lot of agencies in Illinois, I found one that we really liked. Our case worker, A., met with us briefly to just do a meet & greet before we set up the home study. We really liked A. She was around our age and didn't make us feel nervous at all. We set up the home study for the end of March, 2006. All the while, we were working diligently on Packet II.

For Packet II and for the home study, we had to be fingerprinted. We also needed copies of our taxes, birth certificates, and marriage licenses. For Packet II, because Love Basket is a Christian-based organization, we had to have a reference from our pastor and we had to attend a panel discussion hosted at Love Basket. We also attended an adoption support group located in a nearby city. Both of these experiences have been invaluable to us as adoptive parents. We learned so much about open adoption and how to treat birth parents. We also learned a lot about the stereotypes of adoption. We were so impacted by the panel discussion and the support group. We just knew that God had pointed us in the right direction. In fact, the panel discussion (held in January of 2006) solidified our decision. We knew we were meant to adopt. In addition to the panel discussion, support group, fingerprinting, and life histories, we had to attend CPR training as well as parenting classes. We sat in the parenting classes with a bunch of pregnant couples. We were the only waiting adoptive parents in the group and everyone wanted to talk to us. They were so interested in our story, the process, and how long things took. We were the first adoptive couple that our teacher had instructed too. That parenting class was fun and invaluable. Every couple should take one of those classes when preparing for a baby.

Our home study went very well in March and we found out shortly after that we had passed. In preparing for the home study, we had to complete a TON of paperwork for our Illinois agency as well! I think had we known that we'd like A and the agency so well, we probably would've just skipped working with Love Basket, but Love Basket was essential in our adoption journey. We learned so much from their requirements. We never would've attended the panel or the support group. We also never would've met some wonderful people. Next, we had to wait for the Illinois agency to get the home study report to Love Basket. A advised us that she would also show our profile as well if we would like so we could have it shown in multiple states. I was all for that! The more agencies that had our profile (a small scrapbook about us that birth parents viewed) the better.

So, now, it's June of 2006, all the paperwork is done... and we wait...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vacation Recap

So, we're home from Arizona! Travelling with a toddler - what an adventure. What an unbelievably exhausting trip - notice... I didn't say vacation! Don't get me wrong, it had it's fun moments, but it wasn't exactly relaxing! I am glad to be home, and I'm glad to have my baby boy back. Here's a recap of the trip, just to give you an idea of how things went:

Friday: We leave for the airport and things are going great. We got some cute pics of Gabers at the airport and he did fantastic on the flights. He slept most of the second flight, which was the longer of the two at 4 hours. We arrived in Scottsdale at our condo at around 11:00 pm - their time (1:00 am our time) and Gabers was wide awake. He went to bed after about 45 minutes and all was well.

Saturday: We did some swimming and noticed Gabe just wasn't acting like himself. We thought maybe the clorine bothered him or most likely he was just overtired from the travelling the day before, but we couldn't really figure it out. We took it kind of easy and had an early night. We had PF Chang's w/Papa and Grandma too!

Sunday: Let me introduce "Damian"! WOW. I've never seen this kid act like this before (or any other kid for that matter!) We had pancakes by the pool and Gabe wouldn't eat, which is way unlike him... normally, he's wolfing those things down! It's one of his favorite foods. After pancakes, the resort sponsored an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Gabe wasn't too thrilled about that either. So, we went back to the condo and that's when Damian came out to play! He was just inconsolable. He rolled around on the floor and just screamed. By this point, Greg, Gabe's Mom, and Grandma were all getting scared, so we decided to take him to the ER. Scottsdale has a Mayo Hospital so we went there.

First of all, we were there for nearly 6 hours with an inconsolable baby. Secondly, the doctor was pretty much a jerk. Third, we found out that Gabe did not have influenza (after a torturing nose swab!). Finally, we found out that he most likely had strep. (I also had it) The doctor saw white spots on the back of his throat, but the test results would take 2 days to confirm. He prescribed the tasty "pink stuff" antibiotic and tylenol with codeine to help with the pain and to help Gabe sleep. Before going to the ER we were having the worst time getting Gabe to eat, drink, poop, or sleep.

Monday: We followed the doctor's orders regarding the meds. Gabe was still miserable. The tylenol w/codeine was knocking him out. He was absolutely exhausted. We took him to dinner with the rest of the family that evening for Grandma & Papa's anniversary and he just did not behave. Damian returns!!

Tuesday: We called our doctor back home and found out the ER doctor had prescribed WAY too much tylenol with codeine. Our doctor said the only time they ever give a 14 month old tylenol with codeine is after a surgery. They said at most they would give him 1/2 a teaspoon before bed. The ER doc had prescribed 1 teaspoon every 4 hours. Gabe was still so cranky because he was drugged out and everyone was trying to cheer him up!! He just wanted to be left alone so he could pass out and sleep. Tuesday we also took a drive with him through the desert. He slept the entire time. We stopped the codeine medicine that morning and gave him only tylenol if he seemed to be in pain. We haven't decided if we're going to report that doctor or anything. The thing that makes me so angry is that codeine slows your respirations. Gabe could've seriously been injured! Or, he could've stopped breathing!

Wednesday: We're starting to get our baby back. We took him to the Grand Canyon and it was just breathtaking! He was tired of being in the stroller and wanted out! I was not about to let him out though... way too dangerous!! The trip to the Grand Canyon took a total of 8 hours in the car. Due to the tylenol still in his system, Gabe slept for 6 of those hours.

Thursday: We finally had our child back! We took Gabe to the Phoenix Zoo and it was great. He was a little warm, but he enjoyed seeing the animals. We only spent about an hour there because of the heat, but we finally had our baby boy back. It was great to see him enjoying things again. That afternoon, we went to the pool with all of the cousins for some fun. That evening Gabe's Aunts, Uncles, & cousins watched him so Gabe's Dad and I could go out for supper. We had a great meal and we both had Gelato on the way home! It was yummy!!

Friday: We left Scottsdale at 7:30 am and got back to Illinois at 10:00 pm. Gabe did great on the first flight (3 1/2 hours - he slept the entire time) and was pretty much a stinker on the final hour and 1/2 flight. We were glad to be back safe and sound. We all crashed in our own beds. Ahhh....

So, overall, it was a pretty rough vacation for our first travelling experience with a toddler. But, thank God he's ok and we made it home safe and sound. We had a great time with our family. They are the best - they all just love Gabe so much and it's so great as a parent to see your family love your child. You just know they're going to grow up with a great support system. Gabe loves his cousins and has become his cousin Braden's shadow. His cousin Katie helped with babysitting for the first time on this trip too. That's kind of crazy for me since I used to babysit her! We're so fortunate to have been able to go on this trip with our family. I love that Gabe will grow up going on vacations like Greg and I did as kids. We're making memories.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

McDate w/ my McBaby

Tonight, I took my little man, Gabey, on his first Momma-son date to McDonalds. I don't know why, but it's kind of a big deal. We (ok, maybe I) had so much fun. Gabe was just taken back by all of it... I ordered him a 4 piece chicken nugget kids meal (with a child under 3 toy) with a jug o'milk. He was such a good boy. I was worried about finding a high chair, finding a table, and getting me, Gabe, and the tray to the table without spilling our food and drinks all over the floor! Thankfully, we made it. Gabe was a little too distracted to eat. He was watching all of the kids running around. He really got distracted at one point and STARED at this scary looking man with a scraggly beard. He threw one of his nuggets on the floor and nearly poured my sweet and sour sauce all over the table, but over all... it was a great Momma-son date. Thanks Gabey. I love you!

We are headed to Arizona tomorrow for a family vacation with Greg's side of the family. So, I doubt if I'll be able to post at all next week... I have no idea what kind of internet access I'll have. Although, Gabe's Dad is THE computer guy...

From the Beginning - Part One

We always knew we wanted children. It was never a question in our minds. The only things we ever "disagreed" on were the number of kids we wanted to have (Greg = 1 or 2. Me = 4-5) and the names we liked (Greg = Diedrich. Me = Daren).

Part of me always knew I would have trouble having children. I even told my mom that back when I was 17 or 18 years old. When child bearing was way off and there were no physical symptoms that would predict trouble conceiving, I still knew it. I also knew that I thought adoption was cool. I never really thought much about it. I didn't really think I'd ever do it, but if anyone would, I could picture someone like me doing it. That probably doesn't make much sense. I guess what I mean is, I loved the idea of adoption, but it was a foreign concept for our family. No one had really done it. It wasn't close to home.

Greg and I hadn't even been married a year, when his grandmother suddenly passed away. If it would've been up to me, I would have started trying to conceive when we first got married in June of 2001. Greg wanted to wait awhile. Get used to the idea of being a couple. Looking back, he was probably right. Little did we know that we'd have 5 1/2 years of "just us" time. After Greg's grandmother passed away, we had a discussion again about having children. We decided April 1 of 2002 we would start trying.

About a year of no success, we went to my doctor. He didn't give me a whole lot of information, but he did mention infertility. I went home and cried. Then, we went to my parents' house to talk with them and Greg's parents and I cried some more. I remember feeling like I was a failure as a woman. That I couldn't do what happened so naturally for other women. It was incredibly isolating.

Over the next year, we went through a series of uncomfortable, embarressing tests. Let me tell you that I was now comfortable saying words like fallopian tube, vagina, uterus, menstruation, cycle, etc... My poor family and friends. I felt after going to these doctors that nothing was sacred anymore! We found out that I have unexplained infertility - which as a diagnosis explains absolutely nothing.

We tried one round of artificial insemination. We also took the drugs for IVF. The doctor didn't get the dose quite right, so we missed an entire cycle - all those shots, and no eggs to "harvest". We went through a different doctor to try a second IVF cycle. This was a really weird experience for me. When you get to her office at 7:00 in the morning, you're trying to rush in before the other ladies to get the earliest sonogram & blooddraw spot in line. Then, you sit and wait your turn, all the while, these mother hens are sitting around talking about IVF like it's just another day in the life... I remember sitting there thinking, "God, don't ever let me be as flippant about this. Don't ever let this be an experience I just casually talk about!" When it was my turn, I'd go back behind the reception area and a nurse would draw my blood. I did this every other day for 2-3 weeks - driving an hour each way and each time, I had a different nurse. I didn't think much of it at the time, but looking back, I don't think my doctor was good to work for.

After the blood draw, I would go into a room with a sonogram machine and a small table and no room for anything else. An internal sonogram was done to see how my eggs were progressing. With this doctor, my eggs were maturing and getting ready for "harvest". On a Saturday night, at midnight, I had to receive an HCG injection to release my eggs for the harvest. Sunday afternoon, I went in to have them retrieved. I believe 3 days later, the embryos (3 of them) were inserted and we waited 2 weeks and prayed for the best. I remember the doctor asking me if I was sure I wanted all 3 to be transferred to my uterus. I definitely did. If we were going through all of this, I wanted to have a baby. If I got 3, wonderful!!

After 2 weeks, we found out that none of the embryos had taken and that I had been receiving intramuscular injections in vain. It was absolutely heart-wrenching. I thought for sure with the quality of our embryos, and my age, and the fact that my doctor thought I'd be a perfect candidate for IVF that at least one of them would've latched on. After all, I had already latched on to them.

After a failed IVF, we decided we needed some time to think. So we just stopped everything. No more treatments. My best friend and I prayed and prayed that Greg would consider adopting. Then, about 9 months later, our prayers were answered. We'd just finished watching some of our friends' children while they were away on business. Greg told me that he didn't see their skin color (they're Native American). That he just saw them and he missed them. He told me that he could adopt. He could see us doing that. I couldn't believe my ears. God answered my prayers and Greg brought it to me by himself. It wasn't from prodding from me. So, the road to adoption began...

That's all you get for now. Stay tuned for Part Two.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Gabers is still loving basketball. Um, Mom & Dad.... You guys wanna play? I miss Gabe today... I haven't seen him since this morning. I got my hair cut after work and by time I got home, he was already in bed. He's quite a good sleeper. He goes to bed usually by 7:30 and then we have to wake him most of the time at 7:00. So, it's nice for me & Greg in the evenings that we get a little down time before we have to go to bed. The only thing that stinks about it is if I have to do something after work, sometimes I miss getting to see him in the evenings.

Every night before we go to bed, I always tip toe in his room and just make sure that he's still there. I don't know if I think he's just a dream or what, but I go in and peek. I'm so glad that I do. He looks so sweet and angelic. I whisper to him that I love him and then I feel like I can go to sleep for the night. One of my friends who's a parent of an older child said you never tire of doing that. You always want to peek in on your sleeping child.

As tough as parenting is, God sure gave us some wonderful moments to balance it out. When you're tired, your back hurts, and you've stepped on Megablocks or a crushed piece of banana on the floor, you can tip toe in their room and see them sleeping-getting ready for the next day. Or, when they splash water all over the bathroom floor, or they poop in the tub (thank goodness that has only been one time!), you can nearly tear up when they hug you and pat your back while they're hugging. God sure knew how to make it all work. He knew we'd need moments like this. Thankfully, He has made us aware of them and has helped Greg and I to realize just how special it is and how good it is to be Gabe's parents. Thank you for that, God. There were times when I doubted your timing, but you sure knew what you were doing when you put the three of us together. And, I will be forever grateful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday afternoon, our family was finally feeling well enough to go outside for a bit to enjoy the sunshine. We thought it would be a blast to take Gabe to the park since he's only been there twice - and both of those times, he wasn't walking yet. It was really amazing to set him down and watch him walk with shoes on. We rarely, and I mean rarely, put shoes on him because he immediately takes them off. Well, it was like a whole new world for him. It was so funny to watch his little feet clomp on the sidewalk. He walked a couple of steps ahead of us and Greg and I were just taking it all in. Our little boy isn't a baby anymore. He's growing up! As you can probably tell, these photos have "had some work done" (kind of like the plastic surgery of photography) in photoshop. I just like trying different things. I love the above picture because of the different colors of paint on the merry go round. This was when Gabe climbed up there by himself.

He looks a lot bigger in the swing here than he does here. He LOVED the swings. He did not want to get off of them.

Me & my shadow. I didn't include the picture, but I have one of Gabe reaching down and touching his shadow. The quality didn't turn out well, so I left it out. But, I LOVE love love this picture. My guys, getting ready to play at the park. Love that.

And this last picture I love, because it showcases those "Newshoes. Momma said these were my magic shoes. Momma said they'd take me anywhere." (ok, what movie am I talking about here? C'mon... this is an EASY one. I'm practically giving it away!).
Oh, Gabers. You have captured my heart. Just looking at you each day reminds me what I'm here for. I love being your momma. I love that you are learning new things from us. I love that you are big enough to go to the park. I love watching you try new things. Gabey, you are my boy and Daddy's Buckaroo. We love you so much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Flu 2, Gabes Parents 0

Well, unfortunately, the flu has struck our household yet again. This time, Gabe's mom has it. Greg has been fantastic in helping out. I stayed home from work today and slept. That is pretty much all I did. Sleep. I do have 2 updates though:

Gabers has tooth #9! What a relief! His nose hasn't been running as much and he just seems to be in an all around good mood!

Also, Gabe's Easter present arrived in the mail yesterday:

I ordered Gabe these adorable little animals here. I first saw them when I visited my cousin's baby's website. They live in Rome, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to get them in the US, but I did a search for them and there are quite a few places online you can order them from. Now, I want them all! I just think they are the coolest. I am going to have to hold on to them for a while because they're really not meant for kids under 3. Gabe's loves to bite things, so I don't want him trying to bite any of the wood pieces off. I got him the farm set, along with the aligator, the lion, and the ape. They're not too badly priced. But, Gabe's Dad gave me a limit (which is a good thing to do... I love shopping for Gabe), so I'll have to buy one here and there with fun money. I hope Gabe will love them as much as I do! Here's the Jungle ones:

Monday, March 10, 2008

About that time

Little Gabraham is getting a curly do in the back of his hair. I think it's so cute. I have to admit, when he gets out of the tub, I sometimes curl it with my finger, just because it's too cute. It's about that time - time for the first haircut. I love this picture of him... you can see his curl and he has his lion up on its wheels so he can work on it. I remember when my little brother used to do stuff like this. Greg said to me today, "He's growing up..." and he said something about him not really being a baby anymore. I think that's right, but I still call him "baby". I still want to cuddle him like a baby. It is just going by way too quickly. Before we know it, he'll be running. Before we know it, he'll be talking - a lot. Before we know it, he'll be in kindergarten! How does it go by so fast?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekend Recap

It's kinda been a yucky weekend at Gabe's house. Gabe's Mom had to take Gabe's Dad to the ER Friday night because he had fever of 105.4 degrees. We found out that he has influenza and there's not much the doctor could really do for him. We just have to wait it out. Gabe has a cold right now, but thankfully he hasn't had any fevers. I feel fine, but I've been taking Tamiflu just to ward off the bug. Gabe's Dad has been really sick. Poor thing has been a trouper. Yesterday, my sister came home to the family farm to visit for a while. She hadn't seen Gabe since his birthday, so she wanted to hang out with him for a bit. We had a really nice time. Thankfully (I guess you could say...) Mom and Jenny have been exposed to the flu several times this year because they're both nurses, so we didn't have to worry about passing anything to them. Unfortunately, we did have to miss Gabe's cousin, Braden's birthday party. We didn't want to risk any kids getting what Greg has. I'm sure the parents don't want that either! Today, we just kinda bummed around and watched TV. Greg's getting better, but doing just a bit seems to wear him out quickly. I took this picture of Gabe Saturday morning. I'm getting ready to send Nick & Jordan a care package of baby things. Well, Gabe might be a little attached... I told him that we need to share... Maybe he's just sending his soon-to-be buddy a big hug to go with the baby stuff!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Imperfect - and that's ok

I really like this picture of Gabe. You don't even have to look very closely to see that it really isn't a great shot:
  1. It's blurry.
  2. Gabe's hair looks like he just woke up and it's getting long! We might have that first haircut soon!
  3. There's drool all down the front of his shirt - that next tooth's gotta come soon!
  4. His eyes look so tired!
  5. His nosey is a boogery, gooey mess

However, the kid is smiling. He's HAPPY. And that, absolutely, absolutely makes my day. So, the picture's not perfect and Gabe's not in his Sunday best, but he's mine and he's happy. That's all I can ask for! Nothing is more perfect for me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

There was a boy and girl in love. That girl is my sister, Aunt Ne and that boy is her now fiance, Rene.

This weekend, we had the privilege of being a part of a very special moment in my sister's life. She got engaged! In September, at Gabe's adoption finalization party, Rene told me that he wanted to marry her. I knew from the way he talked about her and his love for her that he was completely serious. He told me that night of his plan: he wanted to take her to dinner at the Signature Room in the John Hancock Building, have our family and his family looking on, and he would have them taken away in a horse drawn carriage. I just remember thinking "Wow. He really loves her. He really wants this night to be like something out of a fairytale". And it definitely was. She was so surprised to see all of us there. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of man Rene is that he wanted our families there. It shows me & my family that he realizes how important family is. That he knows our family is very close and that we wouldn't want to miss a special moment like this in Jenny's life.

His plans went off without a hitch. It was a beautiful night. The view from the restaurant was amazing. Jenny said she saw a bunch of flashes and then my face and didn't really know what was going on. It was so wonderful to see her so happy. Congratulations Aunt Ne & Uncle Rene... Gabe is so happy to have a new uncle!

The View

The Happy Couple

Our Family

The end.